Nagpur: The Jamtha cricket stadium is a hot spot today as fans from far and wide, young and old converge to cheer as MS Dhoni-led Team India battle it out against New Zealand in the ICC World T20 tournament opener. It was a sight to see fans lined up outside the stadium, some with crutches, kids as young as few months old entering gates with painted faces and bugles.
But what was the cherry on the cake was a 13-member group, not from the Orange City neither from New Zealand but from the African nation of Kenya.
Atul Raithata, who has his roots in India but was born and brought up in Kenya, along with his friends decided to come down specially for to root for the ‘Men in Blue’ in the ongoing World T20.
What was interesting to notice was the Kenyans were clad in their country’s jersey and chanting slogans for Team India. “We decided to do this and we are attracting a lot of attention here. So what if we are Kenyans, we have come here to cheer for Dhoni and his team, go India go,” Atul, who has almost lost his voice shouting, said.
Although India have made it big in the shortest format of the game, Raithata’s voice dipped when asked about the Kenyan team.
“Kenya doesn’t have the facilities like the Indian team does. Look at the stadiums here and compare them to Kenya,” he said.
“The likes of Steve Tikolo, Thomas Odoyo were legends but Kenya will come back with a strong team. It’s just a matter of time,” Raithata added, as he was busy searching for the entrance gate.
And along the group went, this time not cheering for Team India but with a hakuna matata twist to it.
Non-Test team Kenya qualified for the 1996 World Cup and beat West Indies in the tournament. They qualified again for the 1999 main event and in the 2003 edition shocked everyone by reaching the semifinals.